Geometry gets a ‘Handle on Hygiene’ with Sustainable Retail Innovation to combat COVID-19

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 25/05/2020 | 18:54

Geometry, WPP’s end-to-end Creative Commerce agency, has re-deployed its ‘Handle on Hygiene’ innovation as part of the agency’s commitment to provide sustainable retail hygiene solutions amidst the current global pandemic, and for what will become the new norm post-COVID-19. 

By Romanita Oprea


Since the COVID-19 outbreak, public hygiene has become of even greater importance and retail hygiene in particular is on everyone’s agenda.  With health organisations strenuously encouraging the public to take the right hygiene precautions, notable among them is the frequent disinfecting of areas touched by others to reduce the risk of infection. As a result, sales of hand sanitisers and antibacterial soaps have soared, but gaps remain where the sanitisation of commonly shared surfaces is concerned, especially within retail environments.


Importance of Hygiene in retail is increasing

Although simple, daily routines, such as going to the supermarket, have become daunting tasks, with online grocery struggling to keep up with fulfilment of orders and limitations on delivery, people are cautiously visiting stores. This has made the demand for heightened hygiene in supermarkets substantial, with increased hygiene protocols no doubt becoming a legacy for this pandemic and the new normal for retail in the future.


“Physical retail has been an unsung hero during this pandemic. Despite an abundance of business predictions of the death of brick and mortar, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience, liquor stores and even physical bicycle stores have all been deemed essential businesses. Keeping local doors open has offered consumers access to necessities and a bit of normalcy. Yet as countries and states begin to lift public restrictions, sustainable hygiene measures will become imperatives for sustained future growth.” Explains Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global CEO Geometry.


‘Handle on Hygiene’ technology offers retailers a solution 

Enter Geometry’s ‘Handle on Hygiene’ technology, a previously developed innovation that is being re-introduced to the market to provide retailers with the opportunity to implement a safe, customer-first response in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

This unique, world-first innovation was conceived in 2015 by Geometry MENA and Barrows, the leading manufacturer of physical and digital experiences for retail, in partnership with Lifebuoy, a Unilever sanitizer brand.  Deployed across more than 500 supermarkets over a two-year period, the tried and tested technology instantly applies a thin layer of sanitiser liquid to any supermarket or store trolley handle – killing 99.9% of germs – with one simple swipe.  As customers touch food, swipe and then retouch the handle, their hands and handle are completely re-sanitised, protecting shoppers throughout their entire shopping journey.

“With Handle on Hygiene awarded innovation, Geometry Romania has the opportunity to offer their retail partners and also to other interested clients, like transport operators, a simple yet efficient solution that answers the public health safety indoor issue” stated Mircea Pascu, General Manager, Geometry Romania.


More than 1 million germs on handles

The paradigm of shopping experiences has been redefined and proper sanitisation is possible. Several university research pieces, including a study conducted by the University of Arizona, found that dangerous types of bacteria live on shopping trolley handles making them ideal host to over 1 million germs. Where duty of care protocol was previously a conversation held somewhat behind the scenes, the current pandemic has moved it centre stage, and hygiene protocols are no doubt becoming a legacy for this pandemic and the new normal for retail in the future.

  • Over 60% of shoppers globally are avoiding touching objects. (Source: YouGov)
  • 50% of consumers are looking for ways to enter and exit stores as quickly as possible. (Source: Global WebIndex Report)


This is further supported by Nielsen, foreseeing the need for complete transparency in the supply chain and details on health and safety measures taken by retailers.

“Whilst major retailers around the world have implemented positive steps to support and protect shoppers in store environments, Geometry believes that solutions need to be sustainable and have a long-term impact. Our mission right now is to support retailers, brands and shoppers during this difficult time, and we’ve been moved quickly to restart production of Handle on Hygiene, while drastically reducing the unit price to ensure we get as many Handle on Hygiene units to stores around the globe”, added Nick Walsh.

With hundreds of thousands of units ready for production, measuring tools and samples have been delivered to over 25 markets globally. Whilst the mechanism has been successfully tried and tested in supermarkets around the globe, the technology is easily malleable enough to apply to airport trolleys, public transport handles and numerous other railing that see frequent public usage.

Geometry is WPP’s end-to-end Creative Commerce Agency.  We create engaging new commerce experiences to unlock commercial growth.  We believe the space of Commerce holds the most untapped creative potential to grow brands and people.  Living CommerceTM is our proprietary approach and platform that guides how we work. By understanding how, when and why people buy, we deliver the most innovative and valuable commerce experiences across Retail, Experience, Design and Innovation. We do this in 54 cities across 40 markets, everywhere life intersects with commerce – this is end-to-end.

Barrows is a Retail Experiences company. With over 30 years of experience working with clients in every consumer goods sector and across all types of markets, we truly understand how to attract, engage and sell to a shopper. We provide a holistic range of shopper marketing services that enable our clients to evolve their sales and marketing strategies into targeted and executable shopper marketing activities.

Driven by insights and underpinned by methodical planning, Barrows sets out to nurture collaboration amongst key client stakeholders, both internal and external, culminating in a range of tight briefs which we take forward into design, engineering, testing and implementation, either on our own or occasionally with partner organisations who have proven their capabilities in the expert field of marketing to shoppers. Our single goal is to provide our clients with the insights, plans and solutions to Win at Retail.

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